The Only Alphabet

August Kleinzahler

  • The Songs We Know Best: John Ashbery’s Early Life by Karin Roffman
    Farrar, Straus, 316 pp, £25.50, June 2017, ISBN 978 0 374 29384 0

Karin Roffman’s superb biography of John Ashbery’s early life concludes with a photograph of the poet striding towards the camera. He is a tallish, handsome young man. The photograph was taken in the autumn of 1955 when he was 28, shortly after he arrived in Montpellier to begin his Fulbright Fellowship. He looks to have the world at his feet.

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